Graduate Theses & Dissertations

Maya Exploitation of Animal Resources during the Middle Preclassic Period
This study examines the foraging strategies of animal resource exploitation during the Middle Preclassic period (900-300 BC) at the ancient Maya site of Pacbitun, Belize. The faunal remains analyzed in this study were recovered from various domestic structures associated with the production of shell artifacts. Detailed taphonomic analyses have revealed that the Pacbitun faunal remains were particularly affected by weathering and density-mediated attrition. White-tailed deer was the prey most frequently acquired by the Middle Preclassic Maya of Pacbitun, followed by other lower-ranked artiodactyls. A variety of less profitable prey were sometimes included in the diet breadth. Using the central place forager prey choice model as a framework, the analysis of diet breadth, habitat use, and carcass transport patterns suggests that most animal resources were acquired from terrestrial habitats, at short distances from the site. Complete carcasses of large game appear to have been frequently transported to the site, where they were exploited for their meat and marrow. Comparisons with other Middle Preclassic faunal assemblages indicate significant differences in terms of taxonomic composition, with an emphasis on the procurement of fish and turtles. It is suggested that the Middle Preclassic Maya adopted foraging strategies focusing on the exploitation of local habitats, with occasional use of exotic resources. Author Keywords: Animal, Belize, Foraging, Maya, Subsistence, Zooarchaeology
Archaeological Investigation of the North Group at Pacbitun, Belize
This thesis reports on the 2010 excavations of the North Group and Eastern Court at the ancient Lowland Maya site of Pacbitun. It provides a construction history of the architecture and an analysis of associated artifacts, burials, and caches. The archaeological investigations demonstrate that the seven structures (Strs. 34-40) of this restricted access plazuela group were built in the Early Classic period, and renewed in the Late Classic period. Based on analyses of artifacts (ceramics and lithics), skeletal and faunal remains, and intra- and inter-site comparisons, the North Group functioned as a secondary elite domestic residential group. Reconstruction suggests that the inhabitants here were not commoners; instead, the occupants probably were related to the ruling elite of Pacbitun. Some of the evidence includes the central location and elevation of the North Group, the presence of red painted plaster surfacing, a burial with multiple ceramic musical instruments, and multiple dedicatory caches with exotic goods (e.g., marine shell, jadeite, "Charlie Chaplin" figures). Author Keywords: Ancient Maya, ceramic musical instruments, Charlie Chaplin figurines, Pacbitun, North Group, Eastern Court, Belize River Valley, Belize, restrictive access plazuela group, secondary elite

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